Nearly 30 million German citizens, primarily those over 60 years old, will be able to receive several face masks free of charge in December and the subsequent months to protect against the coronavirus, German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday.
"We have decided that people of over 60 years of old and other people designated as risk groups, will be able to receive three FFP2 respirators and other protective masks in pharmacies during the period before the Christmas holidays. The cost of the three masks is 18 euros [$22]. The decision will cover the Christmas holidays and will be in force until the end of December," Spahn said at a press conference, adding that this concerns 27 million people.
After December, the same groups of citizens will be able to get coupons for six masks, the minister said, explaining that the production capacity and resources in Europe are now sufficient to satisfy demand.
In addition, the minister supported the further toughening of coronavirus-related restrictions as the situation in Germany remains tense.
"As health minister, I advocate for any measures that are based on personal responsibility, as well as for any measures taken by local or regional authorities to reduce contacts and bring the virus under control, this is what I welcome," Spahn said.
The official considered it necessary to start school holidays earlier than planned, on December 16 instead of December 19, in order to further minimize opportunities for citizens to come into close contact.
According to the minister, Germany needs about 10-14 days to slow down the spread of the virus and reduce the incidence.